Does your environment reflect your culture?

Recently, I wrote about using environmental design to convey positioning in the marketplace. A recent blog post over at Looks Like Good Design got me thinking about the importance of architecture and environmental design in also communicating internal culture. Many brands pride themselves on having a strong company culture, and for those who truly do, it is usually reflected in the corporate environment. Nike comes to mind as a great local example of a brand that endeavors to build and strengthen its culture through the design of its Beaverton campus. You don’t often see this type of thoughtful environmental design at financial companies, though the example of Macquarie Group should be a great inspiration.

Australian Macquarie Group is a global provider of financial services for both individuals and corporations. Aesthetically, their brand is clean, contemporary, and sophisticated with international appeal. Recently, they implemented a new organizational structure/work style called “Activity-Based Working” which promotes a culture of collaboration and interconnectedness. Now, most financial corporations would have left it at that. But Macquarie saw that to truly cement this new way of thinking and working, their environment would have to reflect the brand and changed culture. This led to a new building by Clive Wilkinson Architects that was met with positive reception from employees. The structure is open and transparent with many open areas and group work facilities to encourage “cross-pollination among business groups”.



Among financial institutions, Macquarie is pretty forward-thinking for even embracing an open, mobile and collaborative work style. And they are definitely ahead of the pack in redesigning their offices to support their organizational/cultural change.